Blending a family is a difficult transition for the parents and the kids. Here are 10 things I wish someone would have told me about a blended family.
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When Ty and I got married 4 ½ years ago we knew we were fighting an uphill battle. We had been told that blending a family would be difficult, but we never realized how difficult. There are 10 things I wish someone would have told us to prepare us for the new adventure we were embarking on!
People will Look at You Differently and at Times Treat You Differently
I remember the first time Ty and I went somewhere with no kids to an event. People came up to us and asked where the kids were. We responded that they were with their dad/mom. We got an, “oh,” as they walked away. Over the years I have observed that people will look at you differently and perhaps even treat you differently. We have not been invited to events because our kids were gone and people “assumed” we wouldn’t want to be there because our kids were gone. It’s sad, but it is reality. I wish people would realize that we are a perfectly happy normal family with a little bit different of a situation. Hopefully over time!
People Always Want to Be in Your Business When it Comes to the Past.
People will constantly ask, “What happened in your first marriage? Why did you get divorced?” Well, number 1 it’s probably none of their business, and #2 what does it matter; this is our life, so why are you asking us about the past? I have made it a point to not talk about the past with anyone, that’s just what I believe to be the best thing to do for everyone involved, especially the kids! Remember, your ex is their parent; what if they heard you saying “your version” to someone else?
Each of You are More Sensitive When Discussing the Kids.
I remember the first time I tried to “discuss” an issue the kids were having with Ty. Let’s just say it didn’t end well and we both felt like our bio kids were perfect and neither one of us would really listen to one another. As a parent, it is your natural instinct to protect your child, so when you feel like someone is violating that you become defensive and you no longer are listening trying to solve problems. It took a long time to stop being so sensitive and assuming what the other person’s true intentions are. We are all more sensitive. Carefully choose your words that you say, don’t over analyze what the other person says. Take their words as they say them; don’t interpret them. If you feel like you need clarification on what they say ask! Try hard as a couple to look for the best in each other and look at their true intentions, rather than your own assumptions. It will help immensely with trying to figure out what to do in certain situations as you work to be a blended family.
It Takes Time
I recall the first year of our marriage was so hard. The kids would not get along half the time, they were used to just me, or just their dad. The kids were now having to share with one more person 24 hours a day. It always seemed like they all wanted to play with Ty in the backyard, but no one wanted to play the same thing. Ty and I were being dragged all different directions by all the kids. I spent so much time in the first year of marriage on my knees and in tears wondering how we would get through the struggles of blending a family together. Blending a family is not like you can wave a magic wand and it’s done and everyone’s happy.
Sometimes You Are in the Middle Getting Run Over
You have to remember that there is not an instant “I love you” between the kids; I mean initially there might be while you are dating your spouse, but once the honeymoon is over there will be some growing pains. Many times I felt like I was in the middle of everything, trying to make everyone happy and in the end, no one was ever happy. This too will pass. Once the growing pains occur everyone will settle into a routine and find their “niche” in the family and you no longer have to play referee 24/7. One day you will realize you have become a blended family.
You Will Sometimes Be the Third Wheel
Let’s face it! No one can run away and hide from their ex’s and nor should you for the sake of the kids. With that being said, your spouse will have to go to parent conference’s with their ex, you will all be at birthday parties with one another, sporting events, and a variety of other activities. At these events you will probably feel left out, perhaps even ignored, and like a third wheel. I get it. I have been there, I am still there at times, but this is about the kids, not about you. Sorry I know it’s harsh, but it is the truth; once I finally got that I stopped having a pity party for myself and could move on, so the sooner you can, the better.
You Will Stand Out!
Let’s face it… When you are a blended family your family increases in size. In our case throw two more kids in the mix and we have a family of 7! When the boys go to their dad’s house they are part of a family of 9! In these cases, we take up a lot of room. So yes, when our family shrinks by half because they are with bio parents people will notice. When I was pregnant with baby #5 I was asked many times, “You’re having another one?” So yes! You will stand out, no matter how hard you try to blend in; so look good doing it 😉
Fair is a Word That Needs to Fly Out the Window
I recall when #3 got her first phone 2 years ago. She was the first one of the kids to get one because her mom had gotten it for her. The anger from #1 was intense because it was “not fair”. In blending families you cannot control what your ex-spouses do, so yes, things are not going to be fair. There may be really cool trips that kids get to go on with their other bio parent or things bought for them that the other kids don’t have. By no means should you ever try to compete with this. Life in blended families among kids is not always fair, but you need to try and make it as fair as you can while they are all together.
You Will Feel Like Your House Has a Revolving Door On It.
If you share custody with your ex-spouse, your door will always feel like it is revolving. There is always someone coming or going. You will feel overwhelmed trying to figure out when you can do something as an entire family. Get organized! Use a calendar or a planner so you can write it all down, it seems less revolving at that point.
It Gets Better!
Blending a family is one of the HARDEST things I have ever done, but it can be done and it is worth doing, but just know it requires a lot of effort on everyone’s part! One sour apple in the family can ruin the whole dynamic so everyone needs to be on board. Once rules are established, a routine is in place, and you learn how to co-parent with your new spouse things will start to get better as you work together on your blended family. A few years back someone told me that it takes 3-4 years and then you are set; I would agree that we felt the growing pains of blending for about 3 ½ years and now things are awesome!
I know you can do it! Work together! Involve everyone and love love love along the way! It is worth it!
What do you wish you would have known before blending a family?
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!